Born on August 22, 1913, Pearl Harbor survivor James Downing has influenced a lot of people to walk with God during his stay on Earth.
He grew up in the outskirts of Kansas, but spent most of his time in Missouri where he would help his father at his local hardware store. Jim was well-known for the walk he had with Christ, and his legacy still lives on.
At the age of 19, Jim joined the Navy. At the time, this seemed to be the only way in which he could make a living, he said. Jim started his journey with Christ when aboard the first ship he had been assigned to, the USS West Virginia.
Jim Downing rested on February 13, 2018, after living for 104 years. Such a blessing, right? Before his death, he had undergone surgery which he did not have the strength to recover from. By all accounts, however, he was living a fulfilling life.
Welcoming people to walk with God was his specialty. Jim gave his life to Christ on April 19, 1935 when he joined a small faith group in the Navy led by Dawson Trotman.
Dawson was Jim’s mentor. Jim said that after being under Dawson’s wing, he changed his ambition in life and decided to serve the Lord. He had earlier considered going to law school, after which he would run for a political office. It is evident that God had other plans for his life.
After receiving Christ, Jim developed an interest in reading and quoting the Bible, something he had seen from other sailors who were walking with Christ. He made it his goal to me memorize a minimum of ten verses per day. He divided them into different categories to make it easier for him to do so.
After some time, Jim became Dawson’s primary assistant, and part of the ministry while aboard the USS West Virginia. They taught the gospel to the groups of sailors and also when they came to the port.
One time at a port in southern California, Jim met Morena, the love of his life, while still in the ministry. Morena wowed Jim when she was giving a speech during her graduation ceremony in June 1940. The two dated for about six months before getting engaged at the end of the year. Their wedding was held in June the following year in Hawaii, where Jim had been stationed.
Jim’s life would change forever on December 7, 1941 when Japanese pilots attacked the naval base in Pearl Harbor. Because of the attack, he had lost everything he owned, including all of his money. All this happened just 149 days after getting married. Morena had traveled on Christmas day from Hawaii. It took a total of 18 months for them to see each other again. After the attack, Jim made sure that he memorized all the names of the fallen comrade as a sign of respect.
After the tragic incident, Jim then spent most of his time in ministry. He preached on Sunday mornings as the self-appointed ship chaplain. His comrades were always keen to listen to his message. Jim joined the Navigators ministry after being in the Navy for 24 years with the goal of leading people to Christ. Later, Jim joined the Navigator’s team at their headquarters in Colorado Springs. The then-president of the Navigators Lorne Sanny said there was a significant improvement in the group’s financial management after Jim joined their ranks.
Jim retired from ministry in 1983 to travel the world and teach people about Christ. In 2007, he wrote the Living Legacy where he archived all the lessons that he had learned in his 94 years of life. Today, this Pearl Harbor survivor leaves behind an inspirational story for all Christians to follow.
~ 1776 Christian